The drone grew louder as I noticed it more often–after a suggestion I made evoked a negative response, after a compliment went nowhere, after an attempt at humour fell flat.
The incessant noise heightened whenever I didn’t get the response from others I was hoping for. Although my need for approval isn’t as strong as it used to be, I was disappointed that I couldn’t shut it off and be at peace.
It hummed in the background when I reflected again with my spiritual director about the incident that happened to me two months ago.
“I can easily see what they did wrong. But what do they see when they look at me? I suppose they see a person who doesn’t take no for an answer,” I said.
“And what does Jesus see?” she asked.
I closed my eyes and thought about my stubborn forthrightness. Then I heard Jesus say, “That’s what I love about you!” and burst into tears.
In one hand, I held my desire to be rid of what keeps me from fitting in and, in the other, Jesus’ desire that I cherish how I’m made.
“It seems that there is a cost to being your true self,” my director offered.
“Yes. Sometimes people aren’t going to like me or what I do.”
In an odd way, that felt freeing.
Perhaps the sadness I experience when I feel dismissed or don’t fit in is the sound of my true self rising. It’s the sound of new freedom. And maybe, I don’t need to do anything about it.
∗ ∗ ∗
Jean Vanier, passed away on May 7, 2019 at the age of 90. Vanier was a Canadian Catholic philosopher, theologian, and humanitarian. In 1964, he founded L’Arche, an international federation of communities spread over 37 countries, for people with developmental disabilities and those who assist them. He continued to live as a member of the original L’Arche community in Trosly–Breuil, France, until his death (Wikipedia). In his book, “I am struck by how sharing our weakness and difficulties is more nourishing to others than sharing our qualities and successes.” The truth of his words has helped me share my weaknesses and difficulties with you.